Getting a midwifery apprenticeship is usually a matter of making and maintaining contacts in the field, asking the right people for recommendations, and knowing where to look for opportunities. Working as an apprentice is an important part of most midwives’ training and is required for licensing in some places. Still, finding a position — particularly a position that is a good fit — usually requires quite a bit of legwork. Some midwife certification programs will put trainees into contact with potential mentors, known in the field as “preceptors,” but few will actually guarantee placements.
Word of mouth is usually the best way to get a midwifery apprenticeship position, as most openings go unpublished. Midwifery communities in most places are relatively small and are often tight-knit. If you are attending a midwife certification program, your school likely maintains a list of midwives in the area who are willing to entertain the idea of an apprentice. Searching online or contacting local natural medicine and doula services is also a good place to begin your search.
The most important part of finding a midwifery apprenticeship is locating a preceptor with whom you will be comfortable working for an extended period of time. Most apprenticeships are intense one-on-one learning opportunities, many of which last a full year, if not longer. Some natural birthing centers offer apprenticeships where students work with multiple professionals at once, but this is more rare.
In either case, the experience is bound to be a lengthy and intense one. Having a personal rapport with your teacher or teachers is essential to making the relationship work. For this reason, it is usually a good idea to meet and get to know a lot of midwives before committing to do an apprenticeship with any one of them.
It is important to realize that not all midwives have use of apprentices or are even willing to take them on. In places where midwifery is not legal or is tightly regulated, practitioners are likely to be much more reluctant to offer you training. The best thing to do is set up informational interviews with any and all midwives you can get a hold of. Ask about their careers and their training. Looking for broad advice can be a good way to discern whether you are compatible with the midwife and to get a sense of whether you could enjoy a midwifery apprenticeship with him or her.
When you have found a midwife under whom you would like to work, ask about the possibility of partnering for a midwifery apprenticeship. Be prepared to demonstrate your dedication to the field as well as your interest in this midwife’s work specifically. An apprenticeship is a serious commitment of time and resources and should not be entered into lightly.
It is also important to discuss payment and fees before you begin. Different midwives have different policies with respect to apprentices. Some will tutor you free of charge in exchange for the help you will provide. Others request a stipend or small tuition payment or expect that you will join their practices once your training is complete. Setting out all expectations at the front end can help you narrow down the sort of midwifery apprenticeship you want, as well as helping to set you up for success once you begin to practice on your own.